Friday, November 9, 2007

Omar Khadr Update

This from the ACLU:

"ACLU attorney Jamil Dakwar is in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba serving as a human rights observer at the hearing of a Canadian citizen named Omar Ahmed Khadr. Khadr was only 15 years old when he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This is his third hearing; the first two resulted in the charges against him being thrown out.
After nearly six years of disarray and uncertainty about how to prosecute the 320 remaining prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay, the U.S. government has failed to complete a single trial. As the prisoners continue to languish without being charged or tried, one thing remains crystal clear: We cannot arbitrarily detain prisoners, deny them access to lawyers, and hold them indefinitely.
It is also clear that Congress cannot continue to put off taking action, they need to close Guantánamo Bay, restore habeas corpus and repudiate torture once and for all. In the meantime, you and I cannot wait for a change in Congress or the White House to demand that our leaders fix the damage done to the Constitution, our freedoms and our most fundamental American values over the last seven years.
That’s why we’re asking ACLU members to bring the discussion about these vital issues to their friends and family by hosting a screening of the powerful documentary, "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib," on or before December 10, International Human Rights Day. Sign up to host a screening. "

P.S. You don't have to be an ACLU member to do this (I don't believe).

And this blockbuster from CTV:

Khadr legal team says eyewitness was 'buried'

"The defence team for Canadian Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr said they have just recently been told about an eyewitness who could provide "exculpatory information."
The surprise announcement came after a U.S. military judge postponed making a decision on whether Khadr is subject to a war-crimes tribunal.
Upon arriving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, defence lawyers for Khadr told reporters that there was an eyewitness to the 2002 firefight that led to Khadr being charged in the death of U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Speer.
CTV's Lisa LaFlamme reported from Guantanamo Bay that the witness was a U.S. government employee, possibly a soldier.
Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, Khadr's U.S. trial lawyer, told reporters Thursday that the government had known about the witness but had tried to bury him.
"It's an eyewitness that the government has always known about," said Kuebler.
"They weren't going to tell us who he was or how to get in touch with him or where he was. Their theory is that they've done their investigation and they've disclosed everything they have to disclose. And we don't necessarily have an entitlement to talk to people who were actually at the scene of the crime."
Khadr's defence team said they learned of the eyewitness only two days ago when they received disclosure prior to the appearance before a military tribunal.
"He's been in custody for how long? Coming up on six years?" asked Deputy Chief of Defence Mike Berringer. "How we can be on the eve of a hearing to determine his status, how we can have newly discovered evidence, is beyond me."
Meanwhile, Khadr's tribunal in Guantanamo Bay ended without a clear determination of his status.
The court is pondering the question of whether Khadr is an "alien unlawful enemy combatant."
"The judge decided to withhold that pending a Federal Court appeal," LaFlamme said Thursday.
In the end, Khadr was not arraigned. Instead, dates for December and January have been set to hear new pre-trial motions.
Khadr appeared relaxed during his hearing, telling the judge he was satisfied with his defence team.
Khadr was before the military judge for a pre-trial hearing as lawyers argued whether the U.S. Defence Department has the right to try him on charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and spying.
Asked if he wanted to keep his current legal team -- a Pentagon-appointed lawyer and two civilian defence lawyers -- Khadr told the judge: "Yes, sir."
The 21-year-old entered the room dressed in a white uniform reserved for the most compliant prisoners.
He then sat unshackled with his legs crossed at the defence table, alongside his legal team.
Khadr is accused of killing Speer with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002 -- when he was 15.
In 2004, a military panel classified him as an "enemy combatant."
But because he wasn't classified as an "alien unlawful enemy combatant" -- required under rules written by Congress -- Col. Peter Brownback said last June that he had no choice but to throw the case out.
In September, a special military appeals court ruled that Brownback has the authority to determine whether Khadr was "unlawfully" fighting with the Taliban when Speer was killed.
Born in Canada, Khadr returned with his family to Pakistan and then travelled to Afghanistan as a child.
He was captured at 15 at a suspected al Qaeda compound, badly wounded and blinded in one eye.

Despite Khadr's admission that he was satisfied with his legal team, Khadr's Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney said earlier Thursday that the trial was being manipulated.
He said Khadr is only able to choose between the prospect of representing himself or accepting a U.S. military system that's stacked against him.
Edney criticized his client's U.S. lawyer, Kuebler, saying his team was unprepared.
"The military defence team has not interviewed any of the prosecution's witnesses and only recently has looked at the disclosure -- notwithstanding that the prosecution team has been preparing for these days for the last two years," Edney told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday.
Edney also said
Khadr's U.S. lawyer has no trial experience and only has a background in taxation law.
"The least you could provide him (Khadr) with is a competent lawyer familiar with the areas in which Mr. Khadr is charged," he said.

Edney has been barred from Thursday's arraignment because of his complaints about Kuebler.
"I think there's a concern that I would delay the process by advising the judge that first of all Mr. Khadr needs a psychiatric assessment to determine his fitness to stand trial," said Edney.
"You have to understand that Mr. Khadr has spent a quarter of his life in solitary confinement in that hellhole called Guantanamo Bay."
Edney's partner, lawyer Nate Whitling, did manage to meet with Khadr on Wednesday to explain that Edney would not be present today.

Meanwhile, Canada does have a representative at the base for the proceedings but officials are remaining very secretive, said LaFlamme.
"The Canadian government is the only Western nation that has done nothing to try to extradite their national from this prison," she said. "Every other country -- the U.K., Australia, New Zealand -- they've all reclaimed their detainees here at Guantanamo."
University of Toronto political scientist David Welsh criticized the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay saying that the detainees were not being treated with due process.
The U.S. have been "making it up as they go along," he said.
But Sgt. (Ret'd) Layne Morris, a former U.S. soldier injured in the 2002 firefight, said Thursday that he believes the evidence will be compelling.
"I think that's probably why those who would argue on behalf of Omar Khadr are so anxious to always go back and try and challenge the legal system and the circumstances of the trial because, to a certain extent, they think the outcome of this is probably inevitable," Morris told Canada AM.
Morris was left partially blind following the 2002 firefight. "

We hope that justice will prevail, but knowing the U.S. system on this, it's doubtful.

No comments: